It was a 12 months of tragedy, triumph and, OK, just a few undesirable licks. The 2018 calendar 12 months was really memorable in the hockey world.

To commemorate, here is a look again at the 12 moments that formed it:

Too shut for consolation

Brad Marchand is greater than keen to get into it with different gamers with tough hits — or different non-traditional means. AP Photograph/Chris O’Meara

Hockey is a grueling sport involving physicality, slippery ice, sharp blades and, typically, gnarly facial hair. That mixture can lead to some humorous, if not grotesque, highlights. The 2017-18 NHL season introduced us two incidents in which one thing unsavory (chunks of beard, saliva) grew to become the focus.

To finish the 12 months the proper approach, Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski rank the ten greatest hockey tales coated on the pod. Amongst many storylines, we assessment John Tavares changing into a Maple Leaf (21:25), in addition to the Golden Knights historic first season (28:24), and extra! Plus, in “Phil Kessel Loves Scorching Canines,” we glance again at Whalers night time in Raleigh. Thanks for listening all 12 months lengthy! Hear »

The first got here in January, when Maple Leafs middle Nazem Kadri grabbed a piece out of one among the sports activities’ most iconic beards (the orange and grey bushel belonging to Joe Thornton) in a scrum. The plucked bundle rolled alongside the ice like a tumbleweed earlier than it was bagged up by the coaching employees.

The subsequent incident got here throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs, when Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand simply could not cease licking his opponents (Toronto’s Leo Komarov and Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan have been the slimy recipients). There was no self-discipline, although Marchand ultimately stopped after the league known as and reminded him that the playground tactic was unacceptable and, effectively, fairly gross.

U.S. girls win Olympic gold

After a 20-year wait, the U.S. girls’s hockey crew captured Olympic gold once more. Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

For the U.S. girls’s nationwide crew, 2017 was all about combating for equal remedy. Then 2018 was all about catharsis on the ice. In Pyeongchang, South Korea, the U.S. girls overcame their Olympic hump and eventually beat rival Canada in the gold-medal recreation. It was the U.S. girls’s first Olympic gold in 20 years.

Goaltender Maddie Rooney — who was 20 years outdated herself — had a breakout efficiency in the match, although naturally, the ultimate got here down to a shootout. That is when Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson deployed a sick deke, a transfer she known as “Oops I Did It Once more,” for the winner. The aim regarded slicker with each rewatch, and can reside endlessly in hockey lore:

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson’s shootout winner was ridiculous.

— Eleven Warriors (@11W) February 22, 2018

An accountant by day, Scott Foster was the No. 1 star for one night time after main the Blackhawks to victory over the Jets. Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire

It was a 12 months to neglect for the Chicago Blackhawks, who missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade after which in November dismissed coach Joel Quenneville, who led the franchise to three Stanley Cups.

However March 29, the crew was trigger célèbre in the total NHL, and gave its fan base a cause to cheer. That is when Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant/beer-leaguer and father of two, loved 14 minutes’ and 7 saves’ value of viral fame when he was known as upon as an emergency goalie and shut out the high-octane Winnipeg Jets to seal a win. It was a story nearly too absurd to be true, and naturally, it occurred proper in the warmth of tax season.


In the aftermath of the bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos, the hockey world got here collectively in acts of assist, kindness and generosity. Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press through AP

On April 6, the Humboldt Broncos — a crew of 16- to 21-year-olds in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League — have been en route to a playoff recreation when their bus crashed with a truck carrying peat moss. Sixteen individuals died and 13 others have been injured, together with a number of gamers who have been left paralyzed.

The tragedy reverberated throughout the hockey group as a result of these lengthy bus journeys are ubiquitous in the sport. A GoFundMe marketing campaign accumulating funds for these affected raised greater than $15 million in lower than two weeks, with greater than 140,00zero individuals donating from greater than 80 international locations.

The Vegas Golden Knights made a magical run in their inaugural season, and supplied consolation to a neighborhood inhabitants coping with a tragedy. Mikayla Whitmore for ESPN

The Golden Knights set the new commonplace for growth franchises, and in addition left different leagues with a blueprint for the way knowledgeable franchise can thrive in a metropolis with limitless distractions. Vegas opened the season with 500-to-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup. Improbably, the Golden Knights won the Western Convention and have been one sequence away from changing into the first growth crew in the NHL, MLB, NBA or NFL since the 1950 Cleveland Browns to win a championship in its inaugural season.

The crew banded behind a self-appointed nickname, the Golden Misfits, because it captured the creativeness of underdogs in all places whereas galvanizing an missed group that was hungry for a crew to name its personal, one which helped Las Vegas address a horrific tragedy that befell on the eve of the season.

The Washington Capitals’ street to the Stanley Cup was one among the extra memorable ones in current reminiscence — and the celebrations thereafter weren’t too shabby, both. AP Photograph/Jacquelyn Martin

Alex Ovechkin was liable to carrying the label of the best hockey participant to by no means win a Stanley Cup. Then 2018 occurred.

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In his age-32 season, Ovechkin was a menace, scoring a league-high 49 regular-season objectives, then added 15 extra in the postseason as the Capitals won the first Stanley Cup in the franchise’s 43-year historical past. After many near-misses — together with almost a decade of postseason heartbreaks at the arms of the Pittsburgh Penguins — Ovechkin and the Caps exorcised their demons.

Then, they partied exhausting (like, actually exhausting) with one among the booziest, most fan-accessible celebrations in current reminiscence, reminding us all that in case you work actually exhausting and wait lengthy sufficient, the deferred gratification is completely value it.

It is not usually franchise middle hits unrestricted free company and assessments the open market. Chris Younger/The Canadian Press through AP

Rising up, John Tavares was only a child who liked his hometown crew, the Toronto Maple Leafs. His hockey profession took him elsewhere — largely to the New York Islanders, the crew that drafted him and named him captain, and appointed him the face of the franchise. However when the 27-year-old reached free company this summer season, he opted to do what few hockey gamers in their prime dare: check the market.

Certain, it changed into a spectacle at instances (with reporters camped out outdoors of his agent’s Los Angeles places of work as groups swooped in to make their pitch), however in the finish, it was a heartwarming story as the gravitational pull of dwelling was too intense to ignore.

Tavares continues to be shining, even with additional scrutiny, and his transfer might function a blueprint for future free brokers to contemplate really exercising their proper to select.

The Sharks won the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes this preseason, after months of rumor and innuendo. AP Photograph/Josie Lepe

Karlsson is a two-time Norris Trophy winner and maybe the greatest defenseman to ever play for the Ottawa Senators. In 2018, sadly, he grew to become the casualty of a franchise beset by dysfunction.

After months of hypothesis — together with a nasty interval the place his spouse, Melinda, was concerned in a cyberbullying scandal involving the fiancée of teammate Mike Hoffman — the Swede was traded to the Sharks simply earlier than coaching camp. The blockbuster deal concerned six gamers and up to three draft picks, and ended a tragic saga the place the franchise was unable to signal the 28-year-old to a long-term deal (although, relying on who you ask, the Senators maybe by no means put in a very earnest effort to accomplish that).

Tom Wilson receives a 20-game suspension

Tom Wilson has turn out to be one among the most divisive gamers in hockey — beloved in Washington however hated in many different NHL cities. AP Photograph/Nick Wass

The self-discipline was ultimately diminished to 14 video games by a impartial arbitrator, however the sentencing (for a preseason hit to the head of St. Louis’ Oskar Sundqvist) was the fruits of a 12 months when the 24-year-old Capitals winger acquired loads of consideration from the NHL’s Division of Participant Security.

The Sundqvist self-discipline was the fourth suspension for Wilson since September 2017 and included a three-game ban in the playoffs. Wilson, a talented ahead who usually performs on Washington’s top line with Ovechkin, cemented himself as one among the most divisive gamers in the league in 2018 by toeing the line between physicality and hazard so usually. In 2019, we’ll discover out of he can keep true to his pledge to “be good on the market” and “play inside the guidelines.”

Gritty occurs

Gritty transcended the hockey world, together with appearances all through the media and lots of unforgettable GIFs. Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

You thought you’d make it by a year-end checklist with out the point out of 1 furry, orange creature with googly eyes? Suppose once more.

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The Flyers unveiled their new mascot, Gritty, in September to combined response. OK, that was for the first few hours. Then the metropolis of Philadelphia (and actually, everybody else) warmed up to the goofy, large, orange creature in an enormous approach. As was the intention when he was created, he has emerged as one thing you need to high-five, however most likely not hug.

Gritty’s reputation exploded and really transcended hockey, together with appearances on “Good Morning America,” late-night TV and a basic John Oliver section. Amongst his many year-end awards, Gritty was named one among 2018’s “Few Good Males” by the prestigious New Yorker journal.

The Sabres have been one among the greatest tales of the 2018-19 NHL season. Stephanie Wippert/NHLI through Getty Pictures

On Nov. 27, the Sabres defeated the Sharks Three-2 for his or her league-leading 36th level. That made Buffalo the first NHL crew ever to end the earlier season with the worst document after which lead the NHL outright in factors after 25 video games the subsequent season, in accordance to Elias Sports activities Bureau analysis. The victory was a part of a 10-game successful streak that highlighted Buffalo’s resurgence.

The Sabres have been everybody’s favourite sleeper crew this preseason, thanks to basic supervisor Jason Botterill’s busy offseason, which included transport away top gamers akin to Ryan O’Reilly, buying a ton of depth gamers and a top-line winger for Jack Eichel in Jeff Skinner, and naturally, touchdown Rasmus Dahlin with the No. 1 choose.

Subsequent up for the Sabres in 2019? Sustaining tempo and qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Seattle awarded an NHL crew

We do not but know what Seattle’s growth crew will probably be known as, however we do know that it’s slated to start play in the 2021-22 season. AP Photograph/Stephen B. Morton

Upping its growth worth by 30 p.c to $650 million (up from the $500 million Vegas paid) the NHL introduced its intentions to spherical out to 32 groups with the addition of Seattle for the 2021-22 season. Seattle has a wealthy hockey historical past: The Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Affiliation have been the first U.S. crew to win the Stanley Cup, in 1917.

The NHL is anticipated to thrive in Seattle, one among America’s fastest-growing cities, particularly with $800 million being spent to renovate KeyArena, and hundreds already placing down season-ticket deposits. After all, many in Seattle would love for the NBA to return as effectively, however one step at a time.

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